WaterTalk: Use of quantitative resilience in managing urban infrastructure response to natural hazards

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 11:00 am - 12:00 pm EDT (GMT -04:00)

As part of the Water Institute's WaterTalks lecture series Slobodan Simonovic, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Western University, will present "Use of quantitative resilience in managing urban infrastructure response to natural hazards."

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Damages to urban water infrastructure systems have escalated in recent years as a result of various natural hazards. The observed trend is expected to increase in the future as the impacts of population growth, rapid urbanization and climate change persist. There are practical links between disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and sustainable development leading to reduction of disaster risk and re-enforcing resilience as a new development paradigm. There has been a noticeable change in the approaches to management of disasters, moving from disaster vulnerability to disaster resilience; the latter viewed as a more proactive and positive expression of community engagement with disaster risk management.  Multiple case studies reveal links between attributes of resilience and the capacity of complex water infrastructure systems to absorb disturbance while still being able to maintain a certain level of functioning. Use of resilience as an appropriate matrix for investigation arises from the integral consideration of overlap between: (a) physical environment (built and natural); (b) social dynamics; (c) metabolic flows; and (d) governance networks. This presentation provides an original systems framework for quantification of resilience. The framework is based on the definition of resilience as the ability of complex systems to absorb disturbance while still being able to continue functioning. The disturbance spatial and temporal characteristics depend on the direct interaction between impacts of disturbance (physical, social, health, economic, and other) and adaptive capacity of the system to absorb disturbance. This presentation proposes the use of quantitative resilience concept (a management measure that is dynamic in time and space) to assess the response of an urban infrastructure system to the consequences of natural hazards.

The implementation of the concept has been done in the form of web-based decision support system (www.resilsimt-uwo.ca ) that operates in near real-time. It is designed to assist decision-makers in selecting the best options for integrating adaptive capacity into their communities to protect against the negative impacts of a hazard. The tool is developed for application in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is observed how the incorporation of different combinations of adaptation options maintains or strengthens Toronto’s basic infrastructure systems and their functions in the event of different natural disasters.

About the Speaker

Slobodan SimonovicDr. Simonovic’s primary research interest focuses on the application of systems approach to, and development of the decision support tools for, management of complex water and environmental systems. Most of his work is related to the application of computerized simulation, optimization and multi-objective analysis tools in deterministic, probabilistic and fuzzy forms. The second focus area of Dr. Simonovic’s research includes risk and resilience modelling. He is developing, and implementing, probabilistic and fuzzy set methods for water resources risk and resilience analyses. He has undertaken applied research projects that integrate the mathematical modeling, spatial and temporal database management and intelligent interface development into decision support tools for water resources decision makers. Most of his research is being conducted through the Facility for Intelligent Decision Support (FIDS) at the University of Western Ontario.

An example of Dr. Simonovic’s more recent research outcome is a web-based intensity-duration-frequency tool to update and adapt local extreme rainfall statistics to climate change (www.idf-cc-uwo.ca). The IDF_CC tool assists water management professionals to easily and quickly assess potential impacts of climate change on IDF curves at a local level, because it uses data from almost any rain monitoring station in Canada. The tool provides for planning and design of more resilient, sustainable water management infrastructure that can successfully operate over many decades under changing climate conditions. Improved planning using this tool is contributing to the reduction of infrastructure maintenance and replacement costs and helps to protect people, property, and ecosystems from the negative impacts of extreme storms caused by climate change. Currently, the tool has 870 registered users (as of June 2017).